Naperville Bar Louie closure reflects 'chain-wide issue'
Bar Louie in downtown Naperville has closed, one of a reported 38 locations of the gastropub chain to shut its doors in a bankruptcy filing, downtown business officials said.
The closure happened "over the weekend, suddenly," said Katie Wood, executive director of the Downtown Naperville Alliance.
With the news of the bankruptcy proceedings, the reason appears to be "a chain-wide issue" rather than a local one, said Christine Jeffries, president and CEO of the Naperville Development Partnership.
Bar Louie had been a mainstay in the River Square shopping center at 22 E. Chicago Ave., a place for burgers, cocktails and beers near the Riverwalk and the North Central College campus. It also had been, at times, a source of rowdiness and crime.
In 2014, Bar Louie was the scene where a man slapped a manager who was tending bar and pushed a bouncer. And in 2017, roughly 40 police officers had to converge on the bar to regain control of a crowd after a customer threw a bottle that hit a sergeant in the head.
The city council in late 2014 responded to several downtown fights and a fatal DUI with a series of regulations on bartender training, drink price specials, late-night entry, shot sales and beer sizes. More than five years later, Jeffries said, the regulations have created a better night life atmosphere -- one where she said there had not been any recent problems at Bar Louie.
"When Naperville reset its policies throughout the downtown and throughout the city on reining in a little bit of the liquor issues, it really was transformative," Jeffries said. "We call it 'celebrating safely,' and I think that's really taken hold with a lot of our restaurants."
The sudden nature of the Bar Louie closure had Wood saddened and thinking of the employees affected, she said. And the process of replacing the bar will take time.
"There's always a general interest, especially in turnkey restaurant operations in downtown Naperville," Jeffries said. "That's what we'll pursue. We'll see what happens."
The Naperville closure joined Bar Louie locations reported to have shut down in Colorado, Ohio and Wisconsin, among other places. The Bar Louie website still lists Illinois sites in Bolingbrook, Chicago, Geneva, Evanston, Matteson, Mount Prospect, Oakbrook Terrace, Schaumburg and Skokie.
The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.